Punta Sur Isla Mujeres, Mexico: Sculpture Garden & Best Sunrise in the Caribbean

Punta Sur – 77400 La Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo., Mexico

Punta Sur (translated to “South Point” in English) is a slice of the Mexican Caribbean located at the southernmost point of Isla Mujeres, and it is a great place to take in the endless cliff side views of the Caribbean Sea that will simply take your breath away.  Come for the view, stay for the experience.

Besides some of the most picturesque landscapes, here you will also find the remains of an ancient Mayan Temple, a one-of-a-kind outdoor Sculpture Garden, and a Caribbean Village packed with a gift shop and an outdoor restaurant/bar named Acantilado that overlooks the Sculpture Garden.

PSCULPTVIEW - SMALL

Punta Sur is open to the public daily from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Entrance to the park of sculptures and Mayan temple is just 30 pesos or $1.37 USD per person.

This magical spot, nicknamed “Cliff of the Dawn”, is known for its sunrises (it is the easternmost point in all of Mexico) as this is the spot where the sun first touches Mexican soil – and did we mention it sits at over 65 feet above sea level?! At this height, Punta Sur stands at the highest elevation in the Yucatan.

From the moment you step onto the grounds of Punta Sur,  a lighthouse overlooking the Caribbean sea welcomes visitors as bright colors surround you from not only the landscape but also from the modern sculptures themselves! The outdoor exhibition was created in 2001, and it features amazing works of abstract art from twenty-three Mexican artists, including Jose Luis Cuevas, as well as other artisans from around the world.  The artists utilized bright colors and modern shapes to reflect the spirit of Mayan culture in their designs.

Each of the various exhibits is tucked into the most tropical of settings surrounded by views of the open Caribbean Sea.  Visitors can hear and see the waves break against Punta Sur’s naturally carved cliffs – but please be careful.  You don’t want to get too close to those rocky overhangs – even if it is for the ‘Gram!

PSSCULPTTHANKU4SUPRT - SMALL

PSSCULPTLHOUSE
Punta Sur’s lighthouse, restaurant, bar gift shop, and Caribbean Village as seen from the southern part of the Island and the halfway point of the sculpture garden.

The Sculpture Garden is incredibly unique in that it is a completely outdoor installation of man-made sculptures, leaving each of the exhibits on display susceptible to nature.  The creativity on display is beyond impressive.  However, and as strange as this might seem, it’s almost as if each of these one of a kind sculptures have been here all along.  The natural landscaping that surrounds each installation seems to offer visitors, at least us, the impression that these metal sculptures have grown overtime like the plant-life that surrounds them.

We truly enjoy exploring the grounds of Punta Sur just after sunrise on a clear morning to spot each of the little changes that may have occurred over time and due to weather to a sculpture since our last visit to Isla Mujeres.  Many remain only slightly changed while others have been more affected by the elements than others.  The park can be busy in the early morning hours as it is a very popular spot to watch the sunrise.  However, you will never find yourself truly alone at Punta Sur even during the off-hours.  Iguanas are everywhere, and we often find them sunning themselves near many of Punta Sur’s famous sculptures.  Keep an eye out for the Iguana statue near the Park’s main entrance.

PSSCULPTBW - SMALL

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

PSSCULPTCINCO

PSSCULPTORANGECUNCOAST - SMALL

PuntaSurIxchel
A sculpture dedicated to the Mayan Goddess Ixchel, Goddess of Moon, Fertility, Love and Medicine greets visitors near Punta Sur’s main entrance

PSSCULPTBLUE

PSSCULPTLHOUSE2 - SMALL (1)

Take a Walk:

Our favorite part of the Punta Sur experience is wandering the walking paths along the Island’s rocky cliffs while the waves crash at our feet.  The pathways wind through the sculpture gardens toward the Mayan Temple of Ixchel, and descend the rocks down to the coast of Punta Sur.  Although most of the upper portion of the pathway is completely navigable and wheelchair accessible, the lower portion of the path that comes closest to the rocky cliffs and the ocean waters can be quite dangerous during periods of high waves or winds.  There are also points along the pathway that have completely washed out (mostly on the Caribbean side) or overgrown by vegetation over the years.  If you follow the walking path down to the waters edge, take notice of how the wind, the sea, and the salty air has transformed and shaped the rocky cliffs.

If you do decide to explore these lower pathways, be sure to wear the proper footwear (sneakers are best), have your hands free (staring at your cell phone while walking these steep and narrow passageways is a recipe for disaster) and please take your time.  Many of the railings have been damaged over the years, so the steep stairways and narrow pathways can be harder to scale for those with mobility issues.  We always enjoy following the path to a spot on the cliff side where we can sit together, relax, enjoy the peaceful sound of the waves crashing onto the cliff side, watch as the fishing boats sail by, and take in all of the beauty that surrounds us in Punta Sur.

PSSCULPTCUNGARFFJ
The pathways that wind through Punta Sur’s grounds offer some of the most amazing views of the Cancun coastline, Isla Mujeres, and the surrounding turquoise waters.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A rainy sunset view of Punta Sur and the cliffs as seen from the Main Entrance in 2014
PuntaSurJCliff2014
Jared has no fear when it comes to standing along the cliffs edge when we visited Punta Sur for sunset on evening in September of 2014

PSCANLOWCLIFF - SMALL

PuntaSurSept2014SunsetCliff
A view north from Punta Sur’s southernmost tip of the cliffs and beach below while the sun sets over Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

PSCANLOWCLIFF2 - SMALL

PSSCULPTROCKWALKWAYJ - SMALL (1)

PSCULPTCARIBBEANWALKWAY2

PSCULPTCUNWALKWAYJ - SMALL

PSSCULPTGARRAFONTOWER - SMALL
Punta Sur’s winding pathway originally led to Garrafón Reef Park

Misconceptions: 

Park Admission – Although online reviews will tell you that you must purchase admission to Garrafón Reef Park in order to access Punta Sur, this is incorrect.  Garrafón Reef Park is a separate attraction (a zipline park with kayak and snorkle rentals) which does include admission to Punta Sur if purchased.  However, we purchase admission directly from Punta Sur in order to access the sculpture garden and ruins.

Not as Advertised – Often times we have read negative reviews of Punta Sur’s past visitors complaining that the sculptures aren’t in pristine condition, that there isn’t much left of the Mayan ruins, or that the grounds themselves are too small. Please understand that over the years, we have personally witnessed the effects that these natural conditions have had on the sculptures as well as the museum grounds.  Many of the sculptures are crafted out of steel and clearly show signs of weathering as their colors change from exposure to the salt water and ultraviolet rays.  The museum’s grounds along with the Mayan ruins themselves have also been devastated over the years by natural disasters such as Hurricane Wilma in 2005.  Hopefully you can see this illustrated in some of the photos we’ve provided here for your review.

Punta Sur is also home to the Mayan Temple of Ixchel, Goddess of love, fertility, the moon and medicine.  If you are looking for Mayan ruins similar to that of Tulum or Chichén Itzá, please understand that the Mayan ruins that remain at Punta Sur are in no way comparable to that of what you would find in these other locations.  Punta Sur is a beautiful location with a very unique art installation and a piece of Mexican history.  It’s hard to describe the feeling that overwhelms you when you first arrive at this special spot in the Mexican Caribbean, but we truly believe its worth a few hours of your time if you find yourself lucky enough to visit Isla Mujeres.

In other words, manage your expectations.  We wouldn’t recommend visitors plan a trip to Punta Sur solely for the Mayan ruins.  We can definitely see how this misconception would set visitors up for disappointment, especially after they may have visited the likes of Tulum.  The Mayan ruins of Punta Sur are purely a bonus to a visit to the park itself, in our opinion.  Not much of the structure itself remains today, and this is why we do not recommend you visit solely for these purposes.  We do, however, recommend a visit to Punta Sur for the Park’s one-of-a-kind views, the culture, and the overall experience.

cuncoastbluesky-small
Punta Sur also offers unobstructed views of the Cancun coastline.

PSSCULPTCUNCOAST - SMALL

Know Before You Go:

If you are staying in Playa Norte or Centro and want to experience Punta Sur, we recommend you:

  • beat the crowds – arrive early. if you catch a sunrise, you can brag you were the one who was first kissed by the sun’s rays that morning in Mexico
  • rent a golf cart, bicycle, or take a taxi.  there is a parking lot in front of the entrance for your golf cart and a bike rack for your bikes.  The ride from Centro to Punta Sur by golf cart or taxi takes between twenty-five to thirty minutes one-way.
  • bring some pesos or USD along for the entrance fee.  Visitors also need to pay a small fee in order to use the bathroom onsite as well ($1.00 USD per person to use the facilities).
  • plan for a few hours to explore the sculpture grounds, then grab lunch or a snack at the outdoor cafe Acantilado.  end the afternoon browsing souvenirs in the onsite shops.
  • keep children close, especially near the cliffs
  • pack your walking shoes, a bottle of water, and some sunscreen as there isn’t much shade throughout the park itself
  • please do not liter and hold on tight to your possessions.  high winds in the area can send anything not nailed down quickly into the ocean waters below.

When visiting Punta Sur, we prefer to make a day of it by exploring the entire Island during the day by golf cart or bicycle.  We typically bike or drive our golf carts south from Playa Norte early in the morning, and we start our day at Punta Sur for a sunrise walk through the grounds.  Afterwards, we grab a drink, a bite to eat, and relax after our hike through Punta Sur at the onsite restaurant, Acantilado.  Then we’re off to explore the rest of what Isla Mujeres has to offer.  For us, that is the recipe for a perfect day in Isla.

PSSCULPTSKY - small

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

PSSCULPTTEMPLE - SMALL
Punta Sur with the ruins of Mayan Temple of Ixchel in the distance

Punta Sur is a hidden gem of Isla Mujeres.  Many visitors to Isla Mujeres sadly spend only a few hours exploring the Island on a day trip from Cancun and often overlook this magical spot.  Although the sculptures and Mayan ruins may not be what they once were, we highly recommend a visit to this special place.

Have you had the chance to or are you planning to visit Punta Sur on an upcoming trip to Isla Mujeres? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts, tips and tricks in the comments below! You can also read more about Isla Mujeres in our dedicated blog post here

The comments, opinions, and views set forth on this site are the reflected personal positions of the site’s creators.  This site is not an affiliate of Punta Sur.  The comments, opinions, and views set forth within this site are not the official positions of Punta Sur, and they do not reflect the preserve’s position.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s